Minimum Wage Bunkum

I still find it amazing that there are many people out there that believe there are so many families out there with the so-called breadwinners making minimum wage. I still find that hard to believe. Even New Hampshire's Labor Commissioner, George Copadis, believes it.

As this law takes effect it is worth noting that according to research conducted by University of New Hampshire Prof. Ross Gittell, the primary beneficiaries of the minimum wage increase will be women, working parents and older employees aged 65 and up. Even this modest increase in the minimum wage will help these hard-working families meet the sometimes overwhelming financial hardships they face in the form of ever-increasing housing costs, health care, child care, energy and other costs.

He makes it sound like a large percentage of our population are dependent upon jobs that pay minimum wage. Fortunately, he's wrong.

Most minimum wage earners are those entering the job market for the first time. And those that are rarely remain at minimum wage for long. As long as they're willing to do their jobs and do them well, they won't be stuck at the bottom of the wage scale.

As it is, I don't know of too many jobs out there that pay minimum wage. My son, BeezleBub, all of 13 years of age, started his first job at well above the present minimum wage. Working the fields on a farm is unskilled labor, yet he's being paid above the present and future minimum wage.

Repeat after me: Thirteen. First job. Being paid above the minimum wage.

Looking through the want ads of the local and statewide paper, I found it very difficult to find jobs listed that paid just the minimum wage. (In fact I found only one, and it stated that after a 60-day probationary period, the pay would jump to $7.90 per hour.) Even fast food joints like McDonald's are starting new employees at $8 per hour or higher.

Looking at these anecdotal facts, I find it hard to believe that there are all that many families out there where the wage earners are bringing home just the minimum wage.


Stop The Madness - The Primaries Edition

It's really starting to wear me down.

The constant jockeying for each state to have their primary/caucus/convention before every other has now gone past ridiculous: Wyoming Republicans have announced they will be holding their nominating convention on January 5th, 2007.

This means that both Iowa and New Hampshire will be forced by their state laws to move their contests to sometime in December of this year. It's insane.

The ever-changing contest schedule -- and the earlier start to the balloting -- has created an enormous level of discomfort for national parties trying to impose discipline on the states as well as presidential campaigns trying to figure out strategies when voting could begin in just four months.

As a deterrence, the Republican National Committee insists they will penalize states that schedule nominating contests before Feb. 5 by withholding delegates to the conventions next summer.

As if that has deterred states from scheduling their contests earlier. So far Florida hasn't caved to the DNC's demand that they change their date or forfeit their delegates at the Democratic Convention next summer. Will Wyoming's Republican's give in to the RNC's demands?

If this type of madness continues, all that will happen is a weakening of the nomination process to the point where it will become meaningless. Presidential campaigns will start the day after the President takes the Oath of Office. Campaigns will be never ending and, quite possibly, the people will stop paying any attention to them.

I'm almost tempted to suggest that perhaps, this time around, both Iowa and New Hampshire sit this one out and let the rest of the friggin' loonies duke it out and show everyone how stupid the states' party committees have become. By compressing the schedule with heavy front loading all these idiots have done is to limit such campaigns only to the wealthy. The problem with that is that far too often the wealthy haven't got a clue about what the American people want or need (just use John Kerry's presidential run as an example). The candidates with real ideas and true integrity may not have the ability to run because they don't have money to play “in the big leagues” with the rest of the well funded, if less than acceptable candidates.

This BS has got to stop.


Housing Decline and Lender Jitters

Fellow blogger and newspaper reporter Ben Kepple covers the ongoing decline in housing prices and the changes lenders have been making in regards to mortgages that is helping to fuel this decline.

Just looking around central New Hampshire where I make my home, it's obvious that the housing market has cooled considerably. While the mix of homes here is a bit different than most other parts of the state (a large percentage of seasonal or “summer” homes) it still hasn't escaped the downturn in sales or prices. While neither has declined as rapidly as has happened elsewhere, it's still happening. Homes are on the market far longer than they were two years ago. Prices have declined about 2%, while elsewhere they may have dropped 5% or more. I see a number of non-seasonal homes that have been on the market for some time now being listed as price reduced.

Considering that mortgage lenders are being far more cautious than they have been over the past few years, I'm not surprised the market is still in decline. I doubt that decline will last much more than another year or two, but it won't be anything like it has been the past few years once it does turn around. Hopefully the non-bank mortgage lenders have learned the lesson this decline and the ever increasing foreclosures have taught them and they won't be handing out mortgages like toilet paper at a porta-potty. The banks learned that lesson in the early 1990's and the lesson stuck.

There's still some rough times ahead for those trying to sell their homes, those wanting to buy, as well as the lenders.


Thoughts On A Sunday

I loved the luxury of being able to sleep in late this morning. I must have lingered in bed until at least 7:00 or maybe even 7:15AM!

Lazy, that's me!


It looks like Martin Lewis's post in the Huffington Post calling upon General Peter Pace to arrest President Bush is having one hell of a backlash.

It's evident from his post and his responses to comments that he really doesn't understand that what he's calling upon General Pace to do is to commit an act of mutiny. Has BDS driven the leftists so far as to suggest something so drastic? What's next, a call for someone to assassinate the President? I wouldn't put it past them.

If it turns out that Lewis's post was a piece of satire, it failed miserably.


It was Old Home Day in our little town yesterday. Despite the high temps and humidity, the turnout was great.

Old Home Day is quite common here in New Hampshire, a chance for people that live in a town, or once lived there, to get together, eat foods they might not otherwise eat, look at classic cars, tractors, watch a parade, and a host of other activities.


With the ever increasing front-loading of the Presidential primaries, the Democratic National Committee has decided to try and pull back some of the states that have moved their contests earlier and earlier into 2008. Florida moved their primary to January 29th, which in turn caused South Carolina to move theirs up to January 19th. This in turn would require New Hampshire to move theirs to January 8th (Secretary of State William Gardner refused to hold the primary on a Saturday), and Iowa to move theirs to sometime in late December 2007.

The DNC has already warned Florida to reschedule their primary to a later date or they would lose their 210 delegates to the nominating convention later that summer.

The presidential campaign is already too long and too many of the states are doing their darnedest to make sure it's even longer. The so-called Super Tuesday primary scheduled for early March is supposed to encompass 24 states! That's sheer insanity. It makes it impossible for any candidate without a large war chest to adequately campaign, perhaps excluding a superior but less well funded candidate from competing.

I think it's time for both the DNC and RNC to get together and formulate a plan that will end the front loading of primaries and caucuses and spread out the contests to a somewhat more reasonable schedule. If the states won't follow the guidelines set out by both parties then their delegates will be refused entry to their respective conventions.

Can this be considered disfranchisement of the voters in the states that decide to “go it alone?” Yeah, probably. But it will be something they brought upon themselves.

Personally I think that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I – CT) had a good idea – set the primaries up by region, with no more than 4 occurring at the same time. Iowa and New Hampshire would remain first, and the regions would vote in a rotating order that would give none of them an advantage over any other region.

Of course I expect it to be shot down because it's logical.

Go figure.


And that's the abbreviated news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where school starts this week, kids are trying to squeeze in as much summer in as they can before then, and where the local boaters are waiting for the summer folk to go home.


There Oughta Be A Law

A local debate here in New Hampshire illustrates a problem that occurs all too often all throughout the US. It usually starts with the cry of “There oughta be a law!”

One of the more contentious debates going on here is about boating speed limits. Some folks believe that it's necessary to impose a 45mph daytime and 25mph nighttime speed limit on all of New Hampshire's lakes, ponds, and rivers. The argument goes that it will cure many of the ills experienced by people out on our state's inland waters. So far those against such a speed limit have been able to hold back efforts to run a pilot program on New Hampshire's biggest lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, and quash any further efforts until next year.

For those of you out there that aren't boaters, this debate may seem a little strange. The reasoning behind it is that many of us out there on New Hampshire's inland waters have to deal with sometimes hazardous conditions caused by clueless or inconsiderate boaters. From my experiences out on the lake over the years I can say that the problem has not been boaters going too fast in general so much as they aren't following existing rules and regulations.

One of the most ignored regulations deals with speeds allowed when within 150 feet of the shore or from another boat that is either stopped or moving slowly. The rules state that we are not to go above a speed needed to maintain headway or 6mph, whichever is slower (headway means enough speed to maintain control of the boat). But I've seen many boats pass close by shore or other boats at much higher speeds, which can cause damage to shorelines, boats tied at docks, or cause slow moving or stopped boats to be swamped by the offending boat's wake. It's a simple rule, really.

But somehow this has all been turned into a drive to impose speed limits on the inland waters. Frankly, such a law will do nothing except create yet another law that the state's Marine Patrol will have a tough time enforcing. Better that the existing laws, rules, and regulations be enforced than adding yet another one.

And so it is with many of the laws in the other states and the nation as a whole. When the cry of “There oughta be a law!” goes up, it is really nothing more than a means creating yet another piece of feel-good legislation. People will be able to point and say that they did something about the perceived problem.

But nothing will change, at least not until the laws that are already on the books are enforced.


New Hampshire Legislature Stealing State Highway Funds

New Hampshire has a problem.

It's not unlike problems other states are facing, so it's nothing unusual.

The problem? Funding highway maintenance and building projects.

I can't speak for other states, but New Hampshire has a means of funding much of this that, on paper, looks like it would do a pretty good job of making sure that all of the financial needs of the state Department of Transportation, and specifically their needs for highway funds, are met.

Most of those funds are supposed to come from the state gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees. Some comes from the federal government as New Hampshire's piece of the federal highway fund pie. The clincher that's supposed to make all of this work is that the New Hampshire state constitution bans the use of these funds for anything other than highway construction, maintenance, or “for the supervision of traffic thereon.”

Now here's the root of New Hampshire's highway funding problem: 62 percent of the highway funds collected are going to other state agencies having nothing to do with building or maintaining our highways in violation of the state constitution.

As the state struggles to find money to fix bridges and highways, the equivalent of nearly two of each three cents in state gasoline taxes is diverted from road construction.

The state's budget sends highway fund money to eight state agencies where workers never touch a shovel, welding torch or bucket of asphalt. Of the total $128 million in gasoline taxes raised in 2007, $79 million, or 62 percent, was used for non-construction purposes, a Legislative Budget Assistant's Office report shows. A total of $107 million was transferred out of Department of Transportation hands in 2007; $28 million of that went to the betterment of local roads.

If a majority of that money had gone where it's supposed to go our state wouldn't have to postpone or cancel much needed road improvements or construction. What the legislature seems to forget is that if our state's roads are left to deteriorate due to funds constitutionally mandated to pay for them being shifted to other agencies for other uses, our economy could deteriorate with them. Do you think I'm exaggerating? All one needs to do is look to southern New England to see what the effects of deteriorating roads had on the economy of Connecticut.

In the 1960's Connecticut had some of the best roads and highways in the nation. During the mid-70's and early 80's highway maintenance was delayed or canceled. The roads started falling apart. Some became nothing more than long ribbons of patched asphalt that were bumpy and, in some cases, dangerous to travel. As the roads fell apart, so did Connecticut's economy. But the state came to its senses and started rebuilding their roads and adding new ones. As they did, the state economy picked up.

So now the question begs, why have these much needed funds been transferred to agencies having nothing to do with transportation in New Hampshire?

Money is extremely tight at the DOT. The state's 10-year highway plan will take an estimated 35 years to complete unless changes are made to turnpike tolls, gasoline taxes or the plan itself. Acting Transportation Commissioner Charles O'Leary has suggested $1.1 billion in cuts that will get the list to a 22-year plan.


The Department of Safety, which received $70 million or 30 percent of all highway funds last year, gets the bulk of the transferred funds, mostly to cover costs of highway patrols by state police. But Health and Human Services, state courts, the Attorney General's Office, the Department of Environmental Services and the Office of Information Technology also share in the transfers.

Health and Human Services, the courts, the Attorney General's Office, and the Department of Environmental Services? How in hell are they entitled to highway funds? (I can see where the Office of Information Technology gets off receiving some funds – they operate and maintain the DOT's computer networks and systems.)

To quote our governor, “The state should not use the highway fund as an ATM to cover other expenses.”

Maybe it's time for our governor to start using his veto pen and prevent this wholesale theft of funds by the legislature.


Fred - A Straight Talker?

I've made no secret of my support for Fred Thompson. I haven't been rabid about it as that's not my way. I've seen too many overeager and over-the-top supporters of candidates or causes in the past and it's never been pretty. It doesn't make much difference what party or cause they're supporting, they're a little scary. I don't want to be anything like those folks.

As mentioned in some earlier posts, some folks are against Fred Thompson. That's perfectly all right. It's their right to be that way. But their dislike has shown itself in less than savory, honest, or ethical ways. Outright falsehoods have been used in an effort to discredit him, but most people are already savvy about them and ignore it all as nothing more than the same old political BS.

On the other hand there are quite a few folks out there, columnists, bloggers, and commenters alike that see something in him that appeals to them.

From Star Parker:

In a Washington Post poll done last week, only one in five Republicans say they are "very satisfied" with their candidates. And although the Democratic field is more settled (almost half of Democrats say they are "very satisfied" with their candidates), the negative ratings for their front runner and likely nominee, Sen. Hillary Clinton, remain at almost 50 percent.

So, Fred Thompson, a seasoned actor, may really know how to respond on cue. With Act One, Scene One played out, he may enter the stage in Scene Two and wake up the audience.


Anyone who has been reading what I have written these last few months knows my incredulity that the massive entitlements crisis facing this nation has not been part of the campaign discussion. It's been like hearing the social director of the Titanic announce shuffleboard times as the ship is going down.

It sounds like Thompson is ready to put the facts on the table before the American public and, yes, fasten your seatbelts, tell the truth.

He's going to talk about Medicare and Social Security and what we need to do to tighten our belts and get our lives back under control. And he's going to talk about national security and weigh in as a traditional values candidate.

This kind of honesty and candor is only possible with a candidate for whom the truth is more important than the job. And it sounds like Fred is ready.

A candidate that's not going to pull punches and blow smoke up our butts and tell us what we want to hear? Sounds like my kind of guy.

And from Bob, commenting on a post that linked to Star's column:

I'm ready to hear from a candidate who will actually answer the questions that people ask him. Straight and not in "lawyer speak". I'm convinced that the reason the President sounds the way he does when he speaks is that he's been so totally tied up in knots by the "handlers" that he can't say much of anything. Reagan didn't put up with that and I doubt that Fred will either.

From my reading about his campaign for the US Senate, he went against all of the usual campaign advice and did it his way. He went from being very far down in the polls to winning by a landslide, showing that the pollsters and political pundits were wrong. It's possible he can do it again, except this time for the highest political office in the nation.

I've heard a few folks make snide comments about him being an actor. “How good a president can an actor be?” Most of them forget that Ronald Reagan was an actor long before he got involved in politics, and he made a damn fine president.

I think that Fred might, too.

GraniteGrok In The Spotlight

Two of my blogging friends have made the “big time”...uh...or more like the “mediocre time” with a nice article in the local newspaper that covers their ever more well known blogging activities, particularly interviewing state and federal office holders and presidential candidates visiting New Hampshire.

The locally created blog sites GilfordGrok and GraniteGrok are making national waves, with presidential candidate interviews and their own reserved section of YouTube.

Creators Doug Lambert and Skip Murphy, who went live with the sites back in March 2006, have used some good old-fashioned determination and elbow grease, for what they would characterize as a hobby, bringing this to the next level. However they have had some help in this task along the way.

Early on, when things first got going, famed opinionist in the blog world by the name of Glenn Reynolds, who operates InstaPundit.com, linking and commented on posts appearing on GraniteGrok.

After that boost the sites, particularly GraniteGrok.com, have been on the rise, and the New Hampshire Primary on top of that hasn't hurt any.

Yours truly also got a mention...but the article got the URL wrong! If the readers go to the website listed they'll find the “other” Weekend Pundit down in Texas. But no harm done as both of us link to each other.

Congrats, Doug and Skip!


Why Are The Democrats So Afraid Of Fred?

Why are the Democrats so afraid of Fred Thompson?

First it's Henry Reynolds, an attorney, MoveOn.org supporter, and Democrat, trying to smear Fred Thompson with a fake website.

Then it's a leftist blogger filing a complaint with the FEC because Fred hasn't yet declared his candidacy. Of course it was OK when John Kerry did the same thing, raising far more money than Fred has to this point.

Oh, that's right. I forgot. It was OK for John Kerry to do that when he ran for President because he's a Democrat. The same rules don't apply to the anointed of the Left.

Sorry. My bad.



Thoughts On A Sunday

The WP Mother-In-Law and I attended the Boston Pops concert last night at Meadowbrook Farm. Looking around it appeared that the two of us were the youngest attendees in the audience. As Deb put it, “There must have been a lot of Q-tips (white haired senior citizens) in the audience.!”

Regardless, it was a great concert. And, as always, they ended the concert with Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever.

I've managed to see the Boston Pops many times over the years. The first time was 1976 at the Hatch Shell in Boston, conducted by the late Arthur Fiedler. I've also seen them during John Williams' tenure as conductor and, of course, with Keith Lockhart at the podium.


Former President Reagan advisor Michael Deaver has died.

He was 69.


I find it interesting that milk prices have gone up tremendously, yet dairy farmers are getting paid less for their product, in some cases receiving prices not seen since the 1960's.

New Hampshire dairy farmers are seeing their production costs go ever higher while they receive less and less for their product. It's putting a real strain on their finances, forcing many of them deeper in to debt, even as larger farms in other states are receiving price support subsidies from the federal government.

Something is seriously out of whack when the government is forcing smaller producers out of business while at the same time contributing to the spike in milk prices consumers are paying.


As a preview to what the Democrats universal health care may look like, all we need to do is look to the Jepp family of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Can you imagine being about to go into labor for four births, and then flying 325 miles to get to the hospital in another country? Incredible. Michelle Lang, Calgary Herald, reported:

Their mother, Calgarian Karen Jepp, was transferred to Benefis Hospital in Montana last week when she began showing signs of going into labour, and no Canadian hospital had enough neonatal intensive-care beds for all four babies.

It’s not like Great Falls, Mont., is a teeming metropolis. With 56,215 people, it is slightly larger than Charleston, W.Va. Calgary has more than a million people.

There is a difference between health care and health insurance. In capitalistic America, the concentration is on health. In socialistic Canada, the emphasis is on paying the bills. The story ended with how much the American hospital charged. Looks like a quarter-million bucks for a 5-day stay. Given that it was the quadruple birth of 2-pound babies two months premature, I’d say it was a bargain.

Americans spend 15% of their income on health care. That’s why Great Falls has enough neo-natal units to handle quadruple births — and a “universal health” nation doesn’t.

This is what the Democrats want to do with our health care system – make it a mirror to the one in Canada and the UK. Then we can all share our horror stories of how bad our health care systems have become. Of course if we do go the way of our neighbor to the north, where will Canadians needing health care go?


An editorial in the New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH) warns us about Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi's use of a bill meant to expand health care coverage for 'poor' children is really a means of 'providing' health insurance for adults and families making up to $80,000 per year. It's also being used to hide pork barrel spending meant to give more federal money to specific hospitals and health care providers.


I find it hard to believe that school starts in many towns in less than two weeks. Where has the summer gone?


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where there's still a few days of summer vacation left, school bus drivers are learning their routes, and where many of us will refuse to see summer end prematurely.


The Timberman Triathlon

Today is the start of the Timberman Triathlon, an event that has grown considerably in participation and importance over the past few years.

Today is what is called The Sprint, a short course version of the bigger race. Tomorrow is the Timberman Triathlon 70.3 event.

Despite being named "Must-do Triathlon Adventure" by Triathlon Magazine, Keith Jordan and his Timberman staff continue to seek ways to improve the event .

That is no different this year, and it shows with more entertainment and wetsuit strippers — volunteers who will help the athletes out of their wetsuits after the swim.

The 7th annual Timberman Triathlon Festival will get off to a flying start Saturday morning (7AM) with the Timberman Short Course, a sprint triathlon that kicks off the big weekend. With 1,300 triathletes competing on Saturday and another 2,000 on Sunday, the Timberman is now the largest triathlon on the east coast.

I saw the officials manning the short course while dropping BeezleBub off at work earlier this morning. Most of the course signs had been put up over the past week and traffic cones were laid out to mark the various stations along the way.

Heading into Sunday's seventh running of the event, there is no clear cut favorite as a plethora of the world's top professionals flock to the Lakes Region in hopes of conquering the challenging 70.3 mile — 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run — course here at Ellacoya State Park. To do so the challengers must knock of last year's male and female champ Sweden's Bjorn Andersson and Lincoln, Mass. native Karen Smyers, who is the only athlete male or female to repeat. This year's event is also important because it will be offering 75 qualifying spots for the 2007 Ironman World Championships 70.3 in Clearwater, Fla.

"We keep on looking for ways to make it better ... we keep adding more stuff for the athletes," said Jordan, Timberman Race Director.

"We set out to create the best race in the world," Jordan pointed out. "It's become a very prestigious race now, and it's really amazing. I don't know if you can expect that, but the potential was there with the great area we live in and the great people here. All those people, the volunteers who put so much into it, and the spectators who line the street. That is one of the reasons why it has become a great race."

Listening to some of the competitors commenting on the local TV news, the two things that was heard again and again was the challenge of the course and the beauty of the area. The swimming and road race portions of the course are along the south shore of Lake Winnipesaukee with a panoramic view of the lake, the Ossipee and White Mountains to the north, and the Belknap Mountains to the south.

It's understandable why this race has become as popular as it is.


This Guy Gets It

This is one European that understands the dangers of the Islamification of Europe and how it appears that many European governments, national and local, are bending over backwards to give Muslims a pass that those of any other religion do not have.

Watch, listen, and learn.

(H/T Raven)

Cannibals Only Eat Their Enemies

As the leftists in the Democratic Party try to push their agenda, it seems that their mouthpieces, primarily the Kos Kids, are working to silence or purge the moderates from the party. One of those has been Representative Martin Cuellar of Texas. Despite the best efforts of the radicals in the party to unseat the popular Democrat from his Congressional district near San Antonio, Cuellar managed to beat back a more liberal challenger in the state primary by a 53% to 41% margin in 2006. Like Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman before him, moderate Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters backed the popular Congressman, giving him 68% of the vote in the general election.

The netroots effort to move Congress even further to the left have failed. But that hasn't stopped the leftist efforts to turn the US into a socialist paradise.

Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar is today fond of quoting a famous Lyndon Johnson line: "You know the difference between cannibals and liberals? Cannibals only eat their enemies."

But perhaps the Netroots biggest failure, suggests Mr. Cuellar, is that it hasn't bludgeoned his party's leadership into abandoning the middle. It was moderate Democrats who won their party the majority last year (the New Democrats now boast 60 members; 13 new additions), and Mr. Cuellar claims few people understand that better than Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "I've seen her behind the scenes, and I've always thought she was liberal, but she's done a good job of trying to bring us more to the middle."

If Pelosi is trying to get the party towards the middle, then how far out to the left are the radicals? I'd say that she's anything but a moderate. If she is considered a moderate, then the party has already succumbed to the left.

Despite all the blogger bravado that they now run the show, Mr. Cuellar's experience has been more the norm than the exception. The press may adore them, but the Netroots simply haven't notched many concrete victories. "Every time I see [Sen.] Joe Lieberman in the hall, we like to say 'we're still here, aren't we?'" says Mr. Cuellar, a spunky tone in his voice. California's Jane Harman, reviled as a "warmonger," last year whipped antiwar activist Marcy Winograd in a primary, 62%-38%. Ellen Tauscher, who heads the New Democrat Coalition in Congress, was savaged by left-wing blogs for her votes authorizing Iraq and free trade, and in particular for her warning to her party not to "go off the left cliff." She walked away from her re-election with 66% of the vote.

If the netroots folks do drive more of the moderates out of the party, then it's quite possible that the Democrats will see their majorities in the House and Senate evaporate as the American public sees them for what they are.


English Is The Language Of America

There was a bit of a flap about a sign in a park in the town of Merrimack, NH last week. It wasn't that the sign was offensive, inappropriate, too big, or too small. Instead the small brouhaha was all over the sign being in English.

It appears that the town government refused to post a new sign at the town's Wasserman Park that listed the park rules. It wasn't that the old sign was out of date or illegible. The reason the town councilors refused to post the new sign was because it was in Spanish. The town's Parks and Recreation department wanted the sign in order to inform the non-English speaking patrons of the park of the rules. But the councilors refused, and that set off some of the do-gooders in town.

Not everyone believes the town councilors did the wrong thing. In fact, a majority of the townspeople seem to agree with them. One person, herself an immigrant that spoke little English when she arrived from Vietnam, agrees wholeheartedly with the decision.

My family and I were originally from Vietnam. We came to this country about 12 years ago as refugees. We started our new life speaking broken English. There was time when we struggled with understanding, speaking, writing and reading in English. However, we never thought of demanding or expecting signs to be posted in Vietnamese for ourselves or in other languages for those who have come from different parts of the world.

Instead, we learned the language by taking English as a second language classes, talking to people, reading books, watching TV, going to school and so on. I believe there are a lot of immigrants out there who have undergone the same situation and do the same thing. They were willing to learn and speak English in order to improve their lives, as well as to assimilate into this society to become good citizens. This is one way to show the passion and appreciation for this country which has been sheltering us. This is an English speaking country.

That's something my maternal grandparents understood. When they arrived here in the 1930's they spoke Finnish and Swedish, but little or no English. They took the time and made the effort to learn English because they knew it was the key to making their way to success in their adoptive country.

What I believe is that since you have made a commitment to live in a country, becoming a citizen of that country, you need to assimilate into its society and should not become a burden on society. Learning the language is one of the first important steps. In the United States that means speaking English; in Spain that means speaking Spanish; in Russia, speaking Russian. It is the same idea if you come and live at someone's home; you should follow his or her rules, not the other way around.

But it seems that the politically correct morons and leftists believe otherwise. After all, in their view America is always wrong and every other culture on the planet is far superior to ours. Therefore we must make accommodations for the non-English speaking residents of the US, legal or otherwise. Never mind that it will trap them into being permanent second-class citizens, and most likely poverty-stricken ones at that. As long as US culture is subsumed or destroyed, the PC jerks will be placated.

In reviewing the proposal of the parks and recreation and police departments for a Spanish-language sign in Wasserman Park, I wonder if they are being prejudiced. Don't they realize that there other ethnic groups who speak different languages, for instance Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and so on? Why have signs not been put up in those languages? Why only in Spanish? Is the town staff sending a message saying that the people whose primary language is Spanish, are too lazy or too stupid to learn English? I would be very upset if I were a Spanish-speaking person. I would take it in as an insult.

They should be upset because it is an insult.

I can see multilingual signs in tourist areas or ports of entry like airports. It makes perfect sense under those circumstances. But I cannot see the logic of doing that everywhere, particularly at a small town park far away from the usual tourist areas of interest.

I've seen some corporations kowtow the pressure to post multilingual signs even though in many places they are entirely unnecessary. A perfect example of this is Lowe's.

One of their big box home improvement stores opened in our town early this year. My first time in there to pick up some electrical odds and ends was almost my last. Everywhere I looked there were signs in English and Spanish. Why? Why two languages? And why Spanish?

Frankly, if Lowe's was going to post signs in a language other than English here in central New Hampshire, French would make more sense. There are a hell of a lot more French-speaking people here than Spanish speakers. We get a large number of French-speaking tourists from Quebec every year. We also have a large number of families of French Canadian descent, many of whom still speak French...or at least the Quebecois version of French.

Posting signs in Spanish makes absolutely no sense. But most of the illegal immigrants in America speak Spanish, not French. And maybe that's why.

The town councilors made the right decision. English is the language of America. It's about time that people here remember that.


Thoughts On A Sunday

BeezleBub has been thriving at his summer job on the farm. Even though the job has meant that he hasn't been able to indulge in his usual summer activities, he hasn't complained. Well, not much.

He likes the work, the fact that he's busy all the time, and that he's out of doors. He also gets the chance to drive some of the farm machinery, something he loves to do. (It helps that he already knew how to drive a farm tractor courtesy of the WP Father-in-Law.)

He's seen his savings account grow at a precipitous rate. It helps that he spends very little of his money. Then again, he hasn't had any time to spend his money.

He has another week or so before he returns to school, but he'll still be putting in hours at the farm on the weekends until they shut down some time in October.\

He's already been invited back for next year.


I was guest co-hosting again on Saturday's Meet The New Press, something I could very easily get used to. While the radio station is a small low-power AM station, the show is live streamed on the Internet and available as a podcast.

Frankly, I believe the show has more online listeners than those listening on the radio, but that's fine. After all bloggers are the “new press” and we use the 'net as our means of distribution. It seems fitting.


Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is at it again, pressing for a resurrection of the military draft.

His motives have nothing to do with making sure that the US military has enough personnel to perform its duties. Rather it's his way of trying to prevent us from ever going to war again. How do I know this?

Because he came right out and said so on today's Good Morning America Weekend.

His theory is that if the children of the upper class (read that as “rich white folk”) are forced to serve due to the draft, we will be less likely to send our armed forces off to war. He wants no deferments or political string pulling that will allow the upper class to get their children into the National Guard, etc.

He keep spouting the old line that it's primarily the lower and lower middle class that make the sacrifices to defend our nation. He's also spouted the since disproven canard that it's mostly the soldiers from the poorer levels of the socioeconomic scale (read that as “minorities”) that are most often in combat.

It also means that the Left will have a cause identical to the one during the Vietnam War because most of the troops fighting will be draftees and not volunteers, as is the case these days.

Of course it doesn't matter to Rangel that the Pentagon doesn't want draftee troops. They want volunteers because then they can pick and choose who they'll accept. The fact that the level of education and training of members of the US Armed Forces is above that of the general population means nothing to Rangel. His proposal will do nothing but bring down the quality of the men and women serving. These days that's the last thing we want or need.


It's no secret that the number of mortgage foreclosures has been climbing. It's also no secret that a large majority of those foreclosures are on homes financed with sub-prime loans. It's certainly true here in New Hampshire, with 1,800 foreclosures predicted for this year and 2,000 for next year before the number drops off.

Approximately 34% of new mortgages in New Hampshire between 2003 and 2007 were sub-prime mortgages. About 70% of all foreclosures in the state are on sub-prime mortgages. Also, about 20% of the adjustable rate mortgages are expected to go to foreclosure. This is despite low unemployment and rising incomes. I don't know if those numbers hold true in the rest of the country, but I think the figures here certainly give an indication that they might.

At least one bit of good news about this problem: New Hampshire banks gave out few, if any, sub-prime home loans. It appears they learned their lessons from the housing bust back in the late 80's/early 90's. The same can not be said about a number of mortgage companies, a number of which have gone into bankruptcy.

It was suggested by Hillary Clinton that a federal bailout might be forthcoming. However, that would be a bad idea. The mortgage companies took the risk with eyes wide open, knowing it was a crap shoot. The last thing we need is a taxpayer financed bailout of companies that gambled on the housing market and lost. It's not up to us to help them recoup their losses.


With copper prices rising the number of copper thefts from construction sites and unoccupied buildings is on the rise. Copper piping, wiring, flashing and a host of other copper building materials are being stolen in record numbers.

It doesn't affect just the building trades or homeowners. Even the electrical utilities are being hit with wholesale theft of electrical cable from work sites where aerial cabling is being built or replaced.


One of the topics of discussion on the aforementioned Meet The New Press was the sale of Verizon's wireline infrastructure and customers in northern New England to FairPoint Communications.

While at first I thought it was a good idea, considering Verizon apparently had no plans to offer its FTTH services statewide within New Hampshire, I have since come to the conclusion that it's a raw deal for Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The more I looked into the deal and the financial data, including union contracts and FairPoint's plans for expanding broadband service, the less I liked what I saw.

While I am not usually in tune with the two unions that represent Verizon employees, I have to agree with them as well as the New Hampshire Office of the Consumer Advocate that the details of the deal are too vague and that the risk is too high.

All three states involved in the deal must agree to the sale. Should one state balk the deal is dead.

It can't die soon enough for me.


Talk about the gullibility of some people, particularly when it comes to the environment.

(H/T Rob Boyce)


Even with the downwards revision of the predicted number of Atlantic hurricanes/tropical storms we'll be seeing this season, I think the number is still overstated. It's looking more and more like this year's hurricane season will be very much like last year's: much ado about nothing.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer weather is hanging in there, farm harvests are looking pretty good, and where nary a tropical storm has been seen.


The Price Of Fallacious Self-Esteem

How many times over the years have we heard the experts tout building a child's self-esteem as a cure for all of the childhood trials and tribulations? Too many, by my count.

The problem with the attempt to cure the self-esteem deficit is that it created even bigger problems.

These investments in self-esteem paid off royally, according to a report, “Egos Inflating Over Time.” Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and a team of psychologists combed through the answers of 16,475 college students nationwide who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory survey between 1982 and 2006. Their conclusion: Today’s American youth are the most self-absorbed since we’ve studied the subject. “We need to stop endlessly repeating, ‘You’re special,’ and having children repeat that back,” Twenge told the Associated Press. “Kids are self-centered enough already.”

It turns out that self-esteem is overrated. By building self-esteem through false praise or making sure that no one is ever seen as losing, kids get an overblown idea of their self worth and come to have unrealistic expectations about what is owed to them. It's usually one hell of a big letdown when reality smacks them in the face and they find out that they aren't all that special after all.

To give you an idea of how unimportant self-esteem is in the grander scheme of things, there are plenty of inmates sitting on death row that have great self-esteem. It's not a great endorsement for the idea.

If I had the choice of flying in an airliner whose pilot has great self-esteem versus a pilot that really knows what he/she is doing, give me the pilot with the experience any day.


"Universal" Health Care Will Be Universally Bad

It appears that most of the Democratic Party's Presidential hopefuls are bound and determined to make sure that our health care system will suffer the same fate as that of Canada and the UK: a spiral down into uselessness. Never mind that every time universal health care has been tried all it's led to has been universally poor or non-existent medical care. It's insane. (Remember my favorite saying? “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting the results to be different this time.”)

Looking at education and public housing, government run health care is nothing I want to see. Neither does Arnold Kling, and with good reason.

The main proponents of "universal coverage" want to throw more money at the current health care system, which strikes me as unwise. I believe that the "universal coverage" mantra is dysfunctional for the same reason that "more money for public schools" is a dysfunctional mantra for education. When your current approach is digging you into a hole, the sensible thing to do is not to dig faster. It is to stop digging.


I'm not sure what the answer is to ensure that everyone needing medical care will get it, but I do know that socialized medicine is not the way to achieve it.


Dem Supporter Tries To Smear Fred Thompson....And Fails

Fred Thompson hasn't even declared his candidacy and already a supporter of MoveOn.Org and the Democratic party put up a fake Fred Thompson website in an attempt to smear him. Fortunately Captain's Quarters was onto this scamster and called him on it.

The fake website has since disappeared.

I guess scumbags like Santa Monica attorney Henry Reynolds can't stand the spotlight of blogosphere scrutiny.

Stop The Madness!

Are you getting as sick of the posturing of the states in regards to the Presidential primary/caucus schedule? I know I am.

Now South Carolina has decided to move its primary to January 19, 2008 in order to hold theirs before Florida's. That will force both Iowa and New Hampshire to move their respective caucuses and primary even earlier, possibly into December 2007. That's friggin' ridiculous.

The primaries/caucuses are now so front loaded that most of them will be done by April. If the voters think the campaign season is already too long, just how bored or pissed off will they be by November 2008?

The present schedule will make it impossible for old fashioned retail politicking and campaigning to take place. With the compressed schedule as well as the so-called “Super Tuesday”, with 24 states holding their primaries on February 5th, there will be little time for any candidate to press the flesh and meet potential voters face to face. Those candidates with little money will be at a huge disadvantage because they won't be able to buy the 30-second sound bite ads on radio or TV or take out full page ads in the local newspapers. It's likely that the party nominees will not necessarily be the best candidate, but rather the best funded candidate.

The damn system is broken and its time for both the Democrats and Republicans to say “Enough!”

Front loading the schedule hurts the process. In 2004 the Dems paid a heavy price for the front loaded schedule. Let's face it, John Kerry was an unmitigated disaster as a candidate. But the schedule basically forced the Dems to nominate him when there were a couple of other candidates that were far better suited to become President. It's quite possible that both the Democrats and Republicans will “feel the pain” of this campaign's schedule. The best candidates may never make it past the first few contests.

The two parties must come together and work out a plan that will prevent the schedule crunch from ever happening again. Whether it's having the states draw dates from a bowl to set the date of their primaries or setting up some kind of rotating schedule that keeps the primaries spread out over 5 or 6 months, something must be done. Otherwise the American voters will be so sick and tired of the perpetual campaigning that they'll stay home in droves out of sheer boredom. If that happens then we'll really be in trouble.


Question Their Patriotism

It has been said more than once by conservatives that leftists in America seem more interesting in supporting our enemies rather than our own country. Now someone who would know whether this were true has spoken out to confirm what conservatives have always suspected: the left were the so-called “useful fools” used to undermine both American policies and the trust that foreign nations had in America.

Ion Mihai Paceba, formerly a Lt. General in the KGB and the highest ranking Soviet intelligence officer to defect to the West, lays out how the Left in America was manipulated into working against their own government to our detriment, and how they're still at it.

Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified their own ruler--as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia. Abroad, they asserted that a fish starts smelling from the head, and they did everything in their power to make the head of the Free World stink.

During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America's presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages. Those weren't facts. They were our tales, but some seven million Americans ended up being convinced their own president, not communism, was the enemy. As Yuri Andropov, who conceived this dezinformatsiya war against the U.S., used to tell me, people are more willing to believe smut than holiness.

The final goal of our anti-American offensive was to discourage the U.S. from protecting the world against communist terrorism and expansion. Sadly, we succeeded. After U.S. forces precipitously pulled out of Vietnam, the victorious communists massacred some two million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Another million tried to escape, but many died in the attempt. This tragedy also created a credibility gap between America and the rest of the world, damaged the cohesion of American foreign policy, and poisoned domestic debate in the U.S.

Unfortunately, partisans today have taken a page from the old Soviet playbook. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued our mud-slinging at America's commander in chief. One speaker, Martin O'Malley, now governor of Maryland, had earlier in the summer stated he was more worried about the actions of the Bush administration than about al Qaeda. On another occasion, retired four-star general Wesley Clark gave Michael Moore a platform to denounce the American commander in chief as a "deserter." And visitors to the national chairman of the Democratic Party had to step across a doormat depicting the American president surrounded by the words, "Give Bush the Boot."

And that seems to be the tactics the Democrats are using again. They will paint any Republican candidate as some kind of evil proto-dictator, particularly if the candidate continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The seed planted by the Soviets over 50 years ago continues to bear fruit, and the Democrats are oblivious to the damage they're doing. They say not to question their patriotism, but their actions say that their patriotism is to some nation other than America. They revile the President at a time of war. Their only “dialogue” about the war is about how quickly we will surrender and abandon the Iraqi and Afghan people, just like they abandoned the South Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians.

The Democrats say that it is time for a change. I agree. We should throw every single defeatist SOB out of Congress, for they show they have no love for our nation despite their protestations to the contrary.

On July 28, I celebrated 29 years since President Carter signed off on my request for political asylum, and I am still tremendously proud that the leader of the Free World granted me my freedom. During these years I have lived here under five presidents--some better than others--but I have always felt that I was living in paradise. My American citizenship has given me a feeling of pride, hope and security that is surpassed only by the joy of simply being alive. There are millions of other immigrants who are equally proud that they restarted their lives from scratch in order to be in this magnanimous country. I appeal to them to help keep our beloved America united and honorable. We may not be able to change the habits of our current political representatives, but we may be able to introduce healthy new blood into the U.S. Congress.

It may be time for us to implement the Modest Proposal my brother and I posted here a little over 5 years ago.

Multiculturalism Ain't All It's Cracked Up To Be

It appears that the diversity that so many of the politically correct bleeding heart leftists espouse as the end-all-and-be-all of existence does not solve the problems that they've been saying will be cured. In fact, diversity in neighborhoods has a negative net effect, with people living there becoming less active in their communities, being less likely to vote, less giving to charity, and less likely to contribute to a number of other civic activities, reports a recent Harvard study.

The study comes at a time when the future of the American melting pot is the focus of intense political debate, from immigration to race-based admissions to schools, and it poses challenges to advocates on all sides of the issues. The study is already being cited by some conservatives as proof of the harm large-scale immigration causes to the nation's social fabric.

The study is part of a fascinating new portrait of diversity emerging from recent scholarship. Diversity, it shows, makes us uncomfortable -- but discomfort, it turns out, isn't always a bad thing. Unease with differences helps explain why teams of engineers from different cultures may be ideally suited to solve a vexing problem. Culture clashes can produce a dynamic give-and-take, generating a solution that may have eluded a group of people with more similar backgrounds and approaches. At the same time, though, Putnam's work adds to a growing body of research indicating that more diverse populations seem to extend themselves less on behalf of collective needs and goals.

This puts a bit of a damper on the multiculturalists. Forcing diversity doesn't work. It never has. It never will.

(H/T Erik The Viking)


Pour Encourager Les Autres

How can you tell when a de facto dictatorship realizes its losing control and is scared of its own people?

It starts executing them in ever greater numbers.

That's what Iran has been doing lately as the theocracy sees its control over the people starting to slip away.

Too many Iranians are questioning the authority of the mullahs and their representatives. By imprisoning and, in many cases, hanging or stoning them to death, they hope to maintain control over them.

The Mashad hangings, broadcast live on local television, are among a series of public executions ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month as part of a campaign to terrorize an increasingly restive population. Over the past six weeks, at least 118 people have been executed, including four who were stoned to death. According to Saeed Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people, including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in the coming weeks.

The campaign of terror also includes targeted "disappearances" designed to neutralize trade union leaders, student activists, journalists and even mullahs opposed to the regime. According to the latest tally, more than 30 people have "disappeared" since the start of the new Iranian year on March 21. To intimidate the population, the authorities also have carried out mass arrests on spurious grounds.

It sounds like so many other dictatorships that have since faded into history. One day the people will have had enough and it will be the ruling mullahs, the president, and members of the Majlis that will find themselves on the wrong end of a rope or a firing squad. All the Iranian regime is doing now is hastening that day.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The humid air is gone, the temps have moderated some (80's rather than 90's), and the winds have died down, making it one of the more beautiful summer days in a while.

Deb and I had hopes of hitting the lake late in the day after the weekenders have left.


I don't know how it happened, but somehow I ended up driving down to the NH-SPCA in Stratham, New Hampshire with Deb and we ended up with yet another feline member in our household and two for the WP In-Laws.

I told her in no uncertain terms that there would be no more additions of the four-footed kind to the number of inhabitants at The Manse.

I can't wait to see what our curmudgeonly Bagheera is going to write about the whole thing. I can safely say that he isn't pleased that there's yet another interloper with which he'll have to share the supper dish.


It does not surprise me that the KosKids are showing their true colors at the YearlyKos convention. A couple of critical posts and comments about Jon Soltz's moves to silence dissent have mysteriously disappeared from The DailyKos.


A friend of ours one town over has felt the wrath of the “summah people.”

She called us today to inform us that she's being evicted from her lakeside apartment because the neighbors, “summah people” that had bought the house next door, complained about a number of small events that, quite frankly, are something that anyone living on the lake should realize is normal.

Apparently they took exception to the fact that our friend had a couple of friends over to visit; that her son stopped by to pick up his kids after they had stayed with her for a couple of days; that we had the audacity to tie up at the dock that belongs to the house she rents when we visited her a couple of weeks ago.

What it comes down to is that they don't want anyone living next to them that might have a normal life. They want complete peace and quiet. But if that's what they wanted, they chose the wrong place. If it's peace and quiet they want then maybe they should have bought a camp out on one of the islands. Instead, they bullied our friend's landlords into evicting her.

Because of their 'needs', our friend has 30 days to find a new place to live.

I hope that whoever the next tenant might be will be the neighbor's nightmare, with late night parties attended by lots of people with loud Harleys.


When it comes to Mother Nature and endangered species, some folks just don't get it.


I have to agree with Jonah Goldberg on this one: most Americans are too uninformed to vote.

It's always surprising how many people I talk with have no understanding about how our government works. Many of these same folks have no understanding of what the Constitution actually says.

How is it that these folks think that they're informed enough to vote on important issues or the candidates that support them?

That's the crux of the problem: they aren't.


Victor Davis Hanson has a thoughtful post, asking the Middle East to “grow up.”

He points out that the radical Islamists are nothing more than hypocrites, calling the West on things which they themselves indulge.

Radical Islamists love to scream about the "decadent" West. Everything from our operas to our attitudes about women outrage these loud pious critics.

As part of their condemnation, fundamentalist Muslims say they put a higher premium on family values and reverence for the past than crass modern Americans and Europeans do. But that is hardly true.

Recently on a British Airways flight to London, members of Qatar's royal house were outraged that its princesses had been seated next to male passengers who weren't related to them. Was this a clash of civilizations?

Not quite. The entire entourage was, in fact, returning from an all-day shopping spree in Milan, Italy. The angry members of Qatar's royal house may claim outrage at gender equality, but they seem to have no problem with the libertine West when it comes to splurging their kingdom's wealth on luxury items.

This type of hypocrisy in the Muslim world is not limited to supposedly devout oil-rich Gulf sheiks who cherry-pick Western sin. Terrorists -- with one foot in the 7th century and the other in the 21st century -- want it both ways, too.

I guess it's yet another case of the pot calling the kettle black.


Man, I love Ted Nugent!


Bruce has the right of it when it comes to the Dems trying to repeal the “super-evil Bush tax cuts.”

Despite the "inconvenient truth" that federal tax revenues have been pouring into Washington at a record pace in the years following, these idiots will insist on reading from the same bullshit talking points memo, telling us how the country simply "can't afford" to keep those tax cuts permanent.

Yeah, like we can afford to have hundreds of billions of dollars sucked out of the economy all in the name “soaking it to the rich.” Of course we have to remember that to the Dems anyone with a job is, by definition, rich.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summer folk have returned in droves, traffic on the roads has tripled, and where “summah folk” are making a nuisance of themselves big time.


Kerry Rewriting History?

It seems that John Kerry is still trying to rewrite the history of the Vietnam War and it's aftermath.

While it's true that the civilian deaths weren't what some claimed after we pulled out, he conveniently forgets that Congressional Democrats cut off all support for the South Vietnamese and Cambodian governments. It was then that the bloodbaths began. Both the South Vietnamese and Cambodian governments fell, with North Vietnam victorious over the defenseless south, and the Khmer Rouge taking Cambodia. Millions died in a bloodletting not seen since World War II, with the Khmer Rouge killing anyone they saw as ideologically impure, meaning almost a third of their population.

John Kerry either has forgotten that little bit of history or chooses not to acknowledge it ever happened.

I believe it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man is morally bankrupt, particularly when it comes to people wishing to be free.


Flight To Nowhere

Think we have it bad here in regards to air travel? Omar of Iraq The Model gives us a view of what it's like for an Iraqi flying into Jordan.

It ain't pretty.

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse on I-35 West

A bridge on westbound I-35 in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour yesterday, killing at least 7 and injuring 20 or more.

Terrorism was ruled out, with authorities stating that it appears to be a structural failure.

It is believed that there were approximately 50 vehicles on the bridge when the span over the Mississippi River collapsed. Eyewitness reports say that traffic was moving at approximately 5 to 10 miles per hour when the bridge fell.

UPDATE: Design News asks the question “Was it structural failure or metal fatigue?”

There are also a number of related stories that can be followed from the link above.


A New Method To Generate Hydrogen?

One of the big problems with using hydrogen as fuel in fuel cells or internal combustion engines is generating the hydrogen in the first place.

There are a number of methods that are presently used to release hydrogen from a number of compounds: electrolysis, steam reforming, and chemical reaction. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Electrolysis requires large amounts of electricity and usually some kind of acid to dissociate the oxygen and hydrogen in water.

Steam reforming usually required high temperatures, a catalyst, a source of hydrocarbons (usually some form of petroleum fuel) and some kind of filtration system to separate the hydrogen from the carbon dioxide/monoxide, and other byproducts of the reaction.

Chemical reactions can usually generate a large amount of hydrogen for short periods of time unless the chemicals involved in the reaction are constantly replenished. This kind of reaction can also generate large amounts of heat that need to be disposed of or require large amounts of heat in order for the reaction to even take place.

The problem with all of these methods is that they return only a small fraction of the energy put into them in the form of usable hydrogen. They aren't nearly as efficient as they might be. But that may soon change if researchers at Purdue University have their way.

The method eliminates the need to store or transport hydrogen — two major hurdles on the road to a hydrogen economy, says Jerry Woodall, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue and inventor of the process.

Hydrogen is generated when water is added to pellets of aluminum alloyed with gallium. The aluminum reacts because it has a strong attraction to oxygen in the water. The reaction splits the oxygen and hydrogen, releasing hydrogen in the process.

Gallium is critical because it prevents the skin that normally forms on the aluminum's surface after oxidation. Without the skin, the reaction continues until the aluminum is used up.

I have no idea whether the reaction is endothermic (requires heat to take place), or exothermic (gives off heat during the reaction), but it seems that either way it may be a far more efficient way to generate hydrogen on demand. If it requires a heat source, it might be possible to use solar energy to drive the reaction. Waste heat from industrial processes or power plants could also be used to drive the reaction. If it gives off heat then the waste heat could be used to heat buildings, water, or to drive industrial processes that require heat.

I get the impression that the amount of heat required or generated isn't nearly as much as that of a straight chemical reaction. Since it appears to be a catalytic reaction the only other thing that would be needed to sustain the reaction is a supply of water.

If this is a practical means of generating hydrogen at a reasonable cost, then our changeover to a hydrogen economy may have just come one step closer to reality.